Your time and money are more valuable when you can focus on what you do best and delegate the rest to an assistant. Virtual office assistants work from their own home offices and are well-versed in their own skill sets as well as a number of technology. Many have advanced degrees and years of professional experience. A virtual assistant can not only relieve you of mundane, everyday work, but in many circumstances, s/he can also help you build your business.
One of the most significant advantages of employing a virtual assistant is the option to delegate work to people with superior talents who can accomplish tasks you don’t know how to do, don’t have time to do, or simply don’t want to do. The next major advantage of virtual assistants over brick-and-mortar assistants is that virtual assistants merely clock in and out and use their own resources. In other words, they aren’t charging you to sit and play solitaire on a computer you bought for them.
Top 15 Ways Solo Entrepreneurs Make Use of Virtual Assistants
- Calls are directed to your VA’s home office phone, and your prospective clients do not receive voice mail. You only pay for the minutes spent on the phone with the VA.
- You must confirm your weekly appointments. Your VA will contact the appointments and record who has been confirmed and who needs to be rescheduled. If you use a mutually accessible calendar tool, your VA can even change your calendar online.
- Billing can be done off-site by purchasing a software product that installs a desktop electronic billing system on the VA’s computer. The software vendor’s technical assistance instructs the VA on how to use the program, after which you email or fax information to the VA, who then performs daily electronic billing or accounting services to complete your billing.
- You are putting together a marketing plan and require further information. Your VA can call potential advertising channels such as the Internet, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, and so on to learn about price, publishing dates, publishing deadlines, payment procedures, and so on. All of the data is put into a report for your consideration.
- You’re planning a direct mailing and need to double-check your database. The database is emailed to your VA as an attachment. Your VA calls each name and confirms the name, spelling, title, and address. All corrections have been done, old names have been deleted, and new names have been inserted. The revised database is compressed and emailed to you as an attachment.
- You require a brochure, business card, or flyer for your company. Your VA can design, typeset, and print your advertising materials using either your own artwork or stock imagery. Your VA can also prepare the papers for printing by a professional print shop and just email the file to the firm.
- You have a blog but don’t have time to update it on a regular basis. Brief thoughts and ideas, as well as links, can be submitted to your VA, who will then update your blog.
- You must put up a website, either on a directory site or through a web-hosting service. Your VA can create a bespoke site or modify an existing template and update it on a regular basis, adding new articles or information as needed.
- A telephone communication (conference call, teleclass, etc.) must be recorded. The VA records the conversation and transcribes it for the participants.
- You dictate letters, reports, notes, or memoranda onto a cassette tape and mail them overnight to your VA. Your virtual assistant transcribes the audio, prints the letters on your stationery, and mails them the next day. Alternatively, send an MP3 file of your recording to your VA. He or she transcribes the audio and emails you the full transcript.
- You are unable to keep up with the volume of email and are missing critical communications. Set up a generic email account (email@example.com) for yourself or your webmaster. Your VA retrieves all email, sorts it, replies to routine inquiries, and passes important stuff to your personal email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- You are going on vacation, but you cannot afford to keep your customers waiting for two weeks. Your virtual assistant answers the phone, emails, and responds to consumers. If you desire, you can be phoned for urgent calls while you are gone.
- You require bill payment services. All bills are simply addressed to a post office box near your VA. Your VA opens a checking account for you and the VA, with payment authority for both of you. Your VA notifies you how much money to deposit into the account as the bills are prepared for payment. The bills are then settled. If your bank offers it, another alternative is to use online bill paying services. Security features can be configured to make this a secure and simple solution.
- You put into action an advertising strategy or promotion. Your VA can keep track of the plan, submit ads on time, manage expiration dates, organize payment, handle correspondence with advertising vendors, and keep the advertising report and/or advertising budget report up to date for your viewing.
- You want to write a book but can’t seem to get organized. Your VA can assemble rough drafts, notes, fragments, letters, or memoirs into editable form in order to start structuring the book, investigate publishers, and send out queries.
Virtual assistants are not going away. As demonstrated above, virtual assistants can and do function successfully for most small and home-based enterprises, particularly solopreneurs. Over the next few years, you should expect your virtual assistant interactions to shift from What is a virtual assistant and what does a virtual assistant do? in response to the question, Who provides your virtual assistant services?
Using a virtual assistant, particularly through a virtual employment service, is a low-cost, low-risk endeavor. If the virtual assistant doesn’t work out, you may always request another, possibly a better match. Furthermore, combining the use of a virtual assistant (or numerous virtual assistants) with your existing thriving business will catapult your income and success to new heights.